Friday Jan. 18th
This past weekend I had a last minute opportunity to attend the 2019 Victoria Whisky Festival held at The Hotel Grand Pacific. I did not have tickets yet as the festival sold out within hours back in November. A fellow whisky fan and consultant from The Strathcona Liquor Merchants in Victoria by the name of Adam Bradshaw contacted me just days before the festival to tell me that some tickets had come available. This was a chancethat I could not pass up so I jumped on them! I got off work early on the Friday and headed south to meet up with my friends from Shelter Point Distillery who were already at the festival celebrating the multiple awards they had received the previous night at the Canadian Whisky Awards. I arrived in time to pick up my tickets and head to my first masters class of the weekend…Ardbeg!
The Ardbeg masters class was presented by Calgary’s Kensington Wine Market “thescotch_guy”, Andrew Ferguson. The presentation was amazing and I was blown away by the knowledge and experience that Andrew has acquired over the 16 years in the industry. We started the night off with one of my “must have” drams, Ardbeg 10 year old. We then sampled Ardbeg An Oa and moved on to comparing Ardbeg Dark Cove with Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Release. The Dark Cove is bottled at 46.5% ABV and the Committee Release is cask strength at 55%ABV. I am a cask strength fan and this one did not disappoint! However, comparing these two expressions side by side, I’m not convinced that the ABV was the only difference. This matter is something that certainly requires further “research”! We then moved to another one of my “must have” drams, Ardbeg Uigeadail and a delicious Ardbeg Kelpie Committee Release. The final dram of the tasting has now been added to my “must have” list and that is Ardbeg Corryvreckan. This whisky has is all… smoke, sweet, salt.. one of the most complete and complex whiskies I have had to date! I left the tasting excited…and maybe a little buzzed…about the weekend to follow but also wondered how any tasting would top that!
We all met in the lounge afterwards for some beverages and to compare notes on the different masters classes we all attended. We then strolled into downtown for more drinks and to introduce some industry reps from Scotland to Victoria’s infamous night life!